VIEW FROM THE TOP
David J. Aldrich
President/CEO, Skyworks Solutions, Inc.
Q: The importance of sustaining and developing technology has reached a point where states and cities are more actively building relationships with universities and recruiting high-tech companies. Good examples are New York State’s “East Coast Silicon Valley” and several cities in Ohio. However, there continues to be a shortage of engineering graduates, especially those focusing on RF and microwave technology. What would your company do (or is doing) to help promote careers in microwave engineering?
A: Skyworks has a long history of working with colleges and universities to promote careers in engineering. Our Cooperative and Internship Programs give college students the opportunity to enhance their academic coursework by gaining valuable work experience and insights into a real-world work environment. The goal of both programs is to ensure students have a successful and enjoyable experience, and in turn, consider joining Skyworks on a permanent, full-time basis after graduation. Benefits under both programs include:
• Designing components that will be used worldwide in smartphones, tablets and other mobile Internet devices
• Working with state-of-the-art integrated circuit foundry processes, simulation tools and test equipment, and
• Partnering with world-class wireless RF circuit designers
Most interns and cooperative students are selected from universities located near Skyworks office locations. We hire students for part-time opportunities year-round or full-time during the summer to coincide with school schedules.
Q: For those of you serving the military market, what do you expect 2013 will bring in terms of opportunities in this sector?
A: Military market expectations can vary greatly from year to year depending on spending levels. However, there will always be a demand for solutions that help meet real-time communication needs. Skyworks’ broad portfolio of RF/microwave products supports defense and homeland security systems including radio communication, radar, electronic surveillance and electronic countermeasure platforms. In fact, we recently captured a design win for solutions that are enabling mobile manpack radios for the U.S. military.
Q: If your company serves the commercial markets, are you encouraged by any particular emerging application or technology?
A: Commercially, Skyworks is encouraged by consumers’ seemingly insatiable demand for anytime, anywhere, always-on wireless connectivity. This is creating an unprecedented need for high performance analog semiconductor solutions at the access point, within the network cloud and across the supporting infrastructure. Given that the initial proliferation of these technologies is taking place predominantly in developed countries, we expect further worldwide penetration over the coming years.
At the same time, content providers such as Google, Microsoft, HBO and Amazon, are building massive libraries of cloud-based, on-demand content. The result is an exploding desire to be connected to the cloud for both entertainment content and personal storage. Supporting cloud-based services requires adding Bluetooth, HSPA, Wi-Fi, GPS and ZigBee® technologies to 2G, 3G and 4G air interface capabilities and embedding them into products ranging from smartphones to tablets, media players and set-top boxes.
All of this activity is stressing traditional networks, which will require additional investment to support increasing traffic. Traffic is being driven by more Internet users and exploding video content. Cisco projects there will be nearly 18.9 billion network connections---almost 2.5 connections for each person on earth---compared to 10.3 billion in 2011 and that by 2016, 1.2 million video minutes—the equivalent of 833 days---will travel the Internet every second.
Outside of the smartphone and tablet markets, wireless technologies are growing across a number of new and exciting end markets including smart energy, power management and machine-to-machine applications.
Q: Last year, we asked what impact the global economic crisis was having on the markets you serve and on how you run your business. What is your current perspective?
A: I think our industry has learned some critical lessons and we are much better prepared for market slowdowns. Having said that, despite the current economic environment, we believe that the industry’s long-term fundamentals remain strong, particularly as analog content and complexity continue to increase. As a result, we remain quite optimistic about 2013 and beyond.
Skyworks’ diversification strategy across both customers and markets, along with an intense focus on operational excellence, have been key assets in enabling us to produce consistently strong operating results through a variety of market conditions.
Q: What countries or regions do you believe will provide the greatest growth potential for the wireless industry in 2013?
A: Skyworks believes some of the greatest growth potential for the wireless industry will come from emerging markets, where a major smartphone upgrade cycle is just beginning. This of course, will be in addition to the tremendous demand we are already seeing in North America and parts of Europe and Asia.
In emerging markets like China, mobile broadband adoption is in the early stages of deployment. For example, among China’s top carriers, 3G still only comprises less than 20 percent of the total subscriber base, creating a significant growth driver over the next three-five years as 2G subscribers upgrade to 3G. More broadly speaking, with the dramatic increase in the number of LTE-enabled devices, where the capabilities of LTE can exceed equivalent wireline services like DSL, mobile broadband is becoming a viable alternative to wireline. This is especially the case within emerging markets, where virtually all of the growth in new broadband subscriptions is from mobile devices. ♦